Formulation-Centric Cannabis Extraction – Another “Egg-cellent” Analogy

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Over the next 18 months, cannabis extraction technology will make a prolific leap forward – in terms of magnitude, think of what the transition from horses to horsepower did for the transportation industry, or the time difference in a transatlantic steamship journey from New York City to Paris to a jet with a first class ticket in your hand – a technology leap made so rapidly that maybe it spanned only a single generation to accomplish.

It’s much like what I see with communications-centric technology which has subtly crept into nearly every facet of my daily life. In fact, I know very little about the electronics and software that are needed to support the computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices that I routinely depend upon to communicate via emails and texts, create business plans, listen to sports radio, and talk on the telephone hands-free with Blue tooth earplugs. And while I know very little about how it all works, I accept that it all “just works” and I’ve pretty much taken it all for granted now, much like when I turn the ignition key (or push a button) to start my automobile.

I think you can draw similar parallels in the cannabis industry. From plant to product, the technology leap is being led by process automation, on-line monitoring, and large-scale production of a broad spectrum of contaminant-free ingredients. What once were esoteric concepts are quickly becoming a reality, evidenced by the many industry exhibitions showcasing more science, more technology, and more innovations that are moving the industry forward at an unprecedented pace.

By 2021, I envision cannabis extraction technology will come down to a singular, defining principle: formulation-centricity. The goal of formulation-centric extraction is the safe production of products that have meaningful impacts on your health, wellness, and lifestyle. The key point in a formulation-centric approach is to know what product you want to make, then select the appropriate tools to make the ingredients vs. trying to force-fit a set of pre-ordained tools to make a specific product – you just might not be able to get there.

Consider this simple metaphor: You can cook all types of eggs – fried, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, or an omelet if you have the right cooking tools. Let’s say for cooking tools you have a thin-lipped frying pan and a spatula. With those tools, you could fry an egg and maybe carefully scramble eggs, but it would be difficult to make an omelet and impossible to poach or boil an egg. But if your goal was to poach an egg, then you would choose a saucepan and a slotted spoon as your cooking tools.

Now let’s apply that metaphor to the extraction process. There are many approaches to cannabis extraction. You can use extraction solvents like ethanol and CO2 as each has pros and cons based on what product you are going to make. Or you might even use a solventless technique. The bottom line is that you would choose your technique based on the product you are trying to make. For example, if you want terpenes in a formula, you would not use a process that strips terpenes from the formulation.

If a formula—centric approach to cannabis extraction makes sense to you, you might be interested in listening to a recent Webinar I was involved in that was hosted by the CBD Training Academy. You can register and watch it on demand here.

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